Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Photos by JiaYing Grygiel

Easy holiday trip: See giant nutcrackers, lights in Ballard

The ballet's old Maurice Sendak-designed 'Nutcracker' props loom over fairy-tale home.

nutcracker ballard photo by JiaYing Grygiel

The Mouse King is nearly as tall as the house.

See the nutcrackers! Need a winter day trip, and you can’t wait until sledding season finally starts at the local Sno-Parks? Try this festive (and free) holiday outing right in the city.

Start at the Ballard Nutcracker House in the 9000 block of Loyal Ave NW. You can’t miss the 15-foot-tall, 700-pound nutcracker standing guard at the end of the driveway. The giant fiberglass figures came from the “Nutcracker” collaboration of the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Maurice Sendak (yes, the author of “Where the Wild Things Are”). The huge nutcrackers and other figures had been displayed in the lobby of McCaw Hall each December for 30 years. When the ballet switched to the George Balanchine version of “The Nutcracker” in 2015, the figures went home with John Carrington, PNB’s principal harpist.

nutcracker photo by JiaYing Grygiel, Ballard

A nutcracker peeks out from the house.

nutcracker ballard photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Decor adds a little holiday magic.

After seeing the nutcrackers, head a mile east on Northwest 85th Street to Olympic Manor. You’ll know you’re at the right place when you see the spinning Santas. This development of low-slung mid-century homes is famous for its neighborhood lights. It was way better than any of the ticketed drive-throughs we saw last year. You can drive through the streets, or better yet, park and walk for a better look at the wonderful lights.

Wear your masks, keep your distance and happy holidays!

This updated story was first published on Dec. 10, 2020.

nutcrackers photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Children help show off how big the nutcracker is.

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About the Author

JiaYing Grygiel

JiaYing Grygiel is a photographer and writer in Seattle. Find her on Instagram @photoj.seattle and at